Celebrating Pride Month amidst COVID-19
Every June, people all over the world come together to participate in Pride Month. For the LGBTQ2+ community, Pride is a chance to reflect on the past, look forward to the future, and join together in celebration.
This year, things are different. Large gatherings are banned and people are staying indoors due to COVID-19—and although data is limited, there is evidence that this pandemic has disproportionately affected Black communities. At the same time, protests against anti-Black racism are occurring in Canada, America and across the world.
This year, Pride will—and should—look different. This year, it is more vital than ever to remember that Pride Month has its roots in protests and resistance; more vital than ever that we honor the legacy of queer and trans Black activists who have been leading this movement from the very beginning.
Context and history
On June 28, 1969, New York City police conducted a raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City. At this time in New York, the LGBTQ2+ community had been facing sustained harassment and abuse from police forces; in 1969, holding hands, kissing or dancing with someone of the same sex, or dressing as someone of the opposite sex were illegal activities.
In response to this raid, the community rallied around those arrested and against the injustices they had faced at the hands of the police. The protests and riots that followed were led by LGBTQ2+ people of colour, including Stormé DeLarverie, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. The Stonewall Riots are now considered a watershed moment in the fight for LGBTQ2+ rights.
In Canada, similar protests in broke out in 1981 when gay bathhouses were raided by police in downtown Toronto. Three hundred men were arrested; many reported verbal and physical abuse at the hands of the police. The next day, February 6, 1981, thousands took to the streets in protest, sparking a flurry of activism. These protests have often been referred to as “Canada’s Stonewall.”
On June 28, 1970, the first Pride march was held in New York to commemorate the Stonewall Riots. Bisexual activist Brenda Howard, also known as the “Mother of Pride,” helped to coordinate the march and other Pride-related activities around it. Pride Month is held in June each year thanks to her work and the work of many other community leaders.
This year, Pride should look different. As we support and celebrate the lives of LGBTQ2+ people this June, let us also stand in solidarity with Black communities in Canada and around the world.
Here are some suggestions for how you can get involved (from a safe physical distance).
Learn something new
- You can read more about the history of Pride Month and the Stonewall Riots here, and more about the history of Pride in Canada here.
- As a founding employer partner of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI), SFU staff and faculty have access to free webinars that provide invaluable insight into the latest thinking about diversity and inclusion in Canada. For example:
- As an employer with Pride at Work Canada, SFU employees are invited to advance LGBTQ2+ inclusion in a variety of ways.
- Take the LGBT 101 course and help set the foundations of an LGBT-inclusive culture at SFU. Register using the code “SFU10” to receive a 10% discount.
- Attend one of Pride at Work’s free virtual events as part of their Virtual ProPride 2020 season:
- SFU Out on Campus regularly shares updates, events and news on their Facebook and Twitter pages. You can check out their summer event schedule here.
- The Queer and Trans Faculty network helps build social and professional networks among and in support of queer and trans faculty at SFU. For more information, contact Travers at firstname.lastname@example.org.